Whoa I Guess a Lot of People Like Music Theory

Between appearing on Hacker News in October and on Classic FM last week, my theory pages have been getting quite a bit of attention, which has been fun. It made me think I should go back and make all those corrections and updates I’ve been meaning to make!

So I did… I fixed a bunch of errors on a ton of the pages across the board, and I’ve added a sheet on Species Counterpoint in Three Voices. So if you haven’t done so recently, feel free to download the latest version of your favorite page (or the whole collection so far).

More sheets are coming soon!


  1. Hi, Toby!

    I’ve try to send you this to e-mail but the e-mail goes back…

    My name is Rafael Barrera, and I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. I graduate at UNESP, the main public university of state, in the musical education course, and I’m really interested to translate this material to Portuguese (Brasil).

    My username at Zanata is: rafaelbarrera

    Hugs from São Paulo!
    Rafael Barrera

    PS: My cousin lives in Columbus downtown… This is a really small world!

  2. tobyrush says:

    Rafael, your email got through and I responded this morning. Thanks for your offer to help! Let me know if you didn’t get my response.

  3. C Stalley says:

    Hi Toby,

    I’m reading through your amazing music theory graphics, and learning so much, that a lifetime in dabbling in music never taught me. Thank you very much.

    I have one question: on page 31, Motivitc Development, should the word not be motif, rather than motive? Yes, motive would seem to follow from Motivitic, but I’m reasonably sure the word motif would make more sense.

    All good wishes, and many thanks again for your work,


    • tobyrush says:

      Christian, thanks for your note… I’m thrilled to hear that you are enjoying the materials!

      As for “motif” and “motive,” I’ve heard them used pretty interchangeably. I think I put motive in there because it’s a more familiar term for most people.

      Thanks again for the kind words!

  4. GarySherrill says:

    Dear Toby,
    Can you elaborate on the following from the Sparky Interval Identification Page:

    if the top note is
    in the major key of
    the bottom note,
    the interval is

    if the bottom note is
    in the major key of
    the top note,
    the interval is

    Gary Sherrill

    • tobyrush says:

      Sure thing, Gary! This technique applies to imperfect intervals, which are 2nds, 3rds, 6ths, and 7ths. It’s outlined in detail on the page “Imperfect Intervals.”

      The key is to think about the major scale, so it’s good to know your key signatures! Let’s say you’re trying to figure out the interval from E up to G. We know it’s a third by counting lines and spaces (or letters, however you want to do it). But is it major or minor?

      Step 1: let’s see if G (the top note) is in the key of E (the bottom note) major. E has four sharps: F, C, G, and D… which means E has a G sharp in the scale. So G natural is NOT in the key of E! That means that the interval is not major… it has to be minor!

      You could stop there, but let’s try Step 2 just to test it out.

      Step 2: let’s see if E (the bottom note) is in the key of G (the top note) major. G has only one sharp: F. So E natural IS in the key of G! According to Sparky, if the bottom note is in the major key of the top note, the interval is minor!

      So E up to G is a minor third!

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